Spend any amount of time on the Internet regarding Daniel’s 70-Weeks Prophecy and you will quickly find out nobody agrees completely on how this prophecy adds up or intersects with the dates of Nehemiah’s Decree, Palm Sunday, the Crucifixion and the Resurrection of Christ Jesus. I have been following the interpretations for this prophecy on the Internet for close to a decade and only in the past few years have an increasingly larger number of people started to latch onto interpreting the 70-Week Prophecy in the fashion that I have come to believe many years ago after much research and study. Sir Robert Anderson and Dr. Harold Hoehner’s interpretations are surely valid and commendable attempts but seemingly fall short of a few strict requirements to satisfy virtually all critics. Others have improved upon their work to step even closer to a full explanation of the prophecy. I offer yet another improvement or explanation to better solve the ambiguity because once this prophecy is solved, the timing and method of calculation can be used to unravel Daniel’s 2300 ‘Day’ prophecy regarding the rebuilding and reconsecration for the 3rd Temple in Jerusalem which I will save for another future post on this blog. In future posts, this prophetic calculation will be used to date the Birth and Immaculate Conception of Jesus Christ, the birth date of John the Baptist and even the birth date of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Crazy? Keep reading.
Daniel 9:24-27 – The Seventy ‘Sevens’
“24 Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the Most Holy Place. 25 “Know and understand this: From the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. 26 After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be put to death and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. 27 He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.
The Prophetic 360-Day Year
Before God gave Moses the original Hebrew lunar calendar prior to the Exodus of the Israelites out of Egypt (Exodus 12), the Bible routinely used a 360-day year. Even as calendar corrections and errors were slowly introduced by the Hebrews among many others, ancient Biblical prophecy was still presumed to be given in a 360-day year. This is very important.
360-Day to 365.2422-Day Conversion
To properly interpret Daniel’s 70-Week Prophecy, you have to reckon the exact number of days in the prophecy in order to convert the prophetic days into astronomical days. Despite the precision of modern calendars, they continually fall out of sync compared to the average astronomical timing of the Earth’s orbit around the sun. Consequently, atomic clocks are too accurate compared to astronomical timing. For example, another ‘leap second’ was recently added on June 30th, 2015 forming a 61 second minute to our calendar because the Earth is technically slowing down ever so slightly in its orbit around the sun. Too many interpreters of the 70-week prophecy rely on counting calendar days between 2 dates that are so far apart, spanning far beyond any one calendar’s length and rendering them all inaccurate reckonings for this exercise. After many attempts myself to use various calendars, I am now convinced that only astronomical timing can be used to solve the timing of Daniel’s prophecies since God’s timing is based on His celestial creation, not the timing of our man-made calendars. That is not to say specific Gregorian dates are incorrect but instead, long cycles of time measured between 2 dates, incrementing a specific number of days, is not an accurate measurement of days counted between multiple calendars. The best measurement we have of the astronomical timing of the Earth’s movement around the sun is the tropical year. The tropical year is the period of time for the ecliptic longitude of the Sun to increase by 360 degrees. Since the Sun’s ecliptic longitude is measured with respect to the equinox, the tropical year comprises a complete cycle of the seasons; because of the economic importance of the seasons, the tropical year is the basis of most calendars. The tropical year is often defined as the time between southern solstices, or between northward equinoxes. Because of the Earth’s axial precession, this year is about 20 minutes shorter than the sidereal year. The mean tropical year is approximately 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, 45 seconds (= 365.24219 days).
Known Errors in the Hebrew Calendar
After reading many commentaries on the history of the Hebrew calendar, there are many notable references found on the Internet that admit to multiple, unspecified errors, changes or corrections to land certain celebrations on certain days of the week spread out over a very long time. The Hebrew Calendar is the one calendar that backward dates to Adam and Eve from Moses. For instance, one reference to the estimated start date of the Hebrew calendar mentions that year 1 AM counts only a few ‘days’ during the Week of Creation between the creation of Adam in the garden and the end of the Week of Creation. This amount of time cannot be verified clearly if it is a true solar year or not, very doubtful. Year 2 AM starts at the beginning of the week following the Week of Creation according to the same source. Also, the Hebrew Calendar was changed to a luni-solar calendar, which was inaccurate in ancient times for many reasons over a long period of time before adding intercalating months (i.e. leap months) to certain years with certain guidelines that were ultimately exercised at the discretion of the Sanhedrin. To further the confusion, when Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D., the Sanhedrin that managed the Hebrew calendar was dispersed for a considerable time, causing confusion in the Jewish synagogs and Christian churches on when to calculate and celebrate Passover and Easter each year. This started a new enterprise by the Christian church to calculate Easter on its own as before relied solely on the Jewish Temple Sanhedrin to calculate for them. The Christian method that came to be, incorporated a few differences that over time likely fell out of sync with the old, Jewish method used in Jesus’ day. The modern Jewish calendar has improved its percision as did the Gregorian calendar with reckoning time but to use the modern Jewish calendar to backdate accurately, particularly past 70 A.D., seems to prove fallible. Using only the Gregorian calendar to date Biblical events allows the comparison of more modern or future dates to be more understandable. Alternatively, using a Gregorian to modern Hebrew calendar converter doesn’t land on the same Gregorian calendar date as counting Gregorian days which is also a fundamental issue. By many calendar experts, Nisan 1 could have fallen on several Gregorian dates within a 56-day, March/April span that we know about currently. To settle this topic, we have to ask ourselves, what time frame is infallible, the Hebrew Calendar (old or new) or the 70-Week Prophecy given to Daniel from God? Since the two don’t intersect the way they should with respect to the 70-Week Prophecy calculations, one of the two has to be inaccurate. My belief is that the time frame of the prophecy from God is infallible, not the Hebrew calendar changed by man many times. The Dead Sea scrolls prove that the book of Daniel did not change over considerable time since its inception but we do know the Hebrew calendar has changed since its inception.
Picking the Right Start Date – Nehemiah’s Decree
From the Daniel prophecy in verse 25, “Know and understand this: From the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem…” refers to a decree to rebuild Jerusalem. In Nehemiah 2:1-5, Artaxerxes announces to Nehemiah that he can go back to rebuild Jerusalem, “1 In the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes, when wine was brought for him, I took the wine and gave it to the king. I had not been sad in his presence before, 2 so the king asked me, “Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart. I was very much afraid, 3 but I said to the king, “May the king live forever! Why should my face not look sad when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?” 4 The king said to me, “What is it you want?” Then I prayed to the God of heaven, 5 and I answered the king, “If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my ancestors are buried so that I can rebuild it.” In Exodus 12:18, “18 In the first month [Nisan 1 – New Moon] you are to eat bread made without yeast, from the evening of the fourteenth day [Passover – Full Moon] until the evening of the twenty-first day.”
There were four decrees made to restore Jerusalem in this period, only the edict given to Nehemiah by Artaxerxes Longinus, made on the ‘new moon’ which was Nisan 1 in 444 BC authorized the rebuilding of the walls and gates of Jerusalem. It allowed Jerusalem to be a fully functional sovereign city-state once again. Nisan 1 was a significant date in its own right as it marks the Biblical ‘New Years’ Day, the start of the month of the Exodus from Egypt and the beginning of Jewish National History. The significance of Nisan 1 as March 5, 444 BC would also make a strong case for why that date is also the right start date. The Biblical New Year begins at the appearance of the first ‘new moon’ of Spring, that is, when the waxing crescent of the moon is first sighted immediately following the new moon. Biblically, this new moon is called Rosh Chodashim as commanded in Exodus 12:2 (http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Holidays/Spring_Holidays/Rosh_Chodashim/rosh_chodashim.html). It is also possible to narrow down to a specific day in Nisan due to Nehemiah’s sadness which can be possibly explained by him knowing the significance of the present date of Nehemiah 2:1-10, Nisan 1, which celebrates the month of the Exodus from Egypt, while he is still similarly in captivity by the Persians. Nisan 1 would have had to start at sundown on March 4, 444 B.C so the exchange detailed in Nehemiah 2 must have happened after sundown as if they were celebrating with wine as mentioned. March 5 in the Gregorian calendar is the equivalent to the Jewish March 4th (sundown) to March 5th (sundown).
New Moon to Nisan 1
Among other dates, many historians have recorded that Nisan 1 in the year of 444 BC was March 5, 444 BC. Using online moon phase charts for the year of 444 BC, there was a new moon on March 2 at 19:29 UTC or 21:29 IST which would be Jewish March 2nd-3rd, Gregorian dated. The Jews did not mark Nisan 1 until at least 2 verifiable witnesses reported to the Sanhedrin the first waxing crescent or sliver of light across the edge of the new moon. This could take at least 20 or more hours after the new moon’s astronomical start. If viewing conditions were not ideal, it was possible to take an additional night to make the visible observation. Also, Jewish custom marked a new day at sundown by observing on a relative clear night the high luminance of no less than 3 stars (or planets) in the dusk sky after sunset. If Nehemiah’s waxing crescent moon was not visible until the evening of March 4 after sunset when the sky was dark enough and the moon appeared over the horizon, then Nisan 1 could be declared which would officially start at sundown on March 4th and last until sundown of March 5th in 444 BC. There is no possible way to independently verify this today but given the timing of the new moon, the waxing crescent and the historical recordings of March 5, 444 BC as Nisan 1, it is most certainly within the realm of very likely possibilities. The Bible passages referencing the month of Nisan’s start of the Nehemiah decree don’t specifically call out Nisan 1 as the start date as any date that month could be the prophecy start date; however, when you look at the calculations, only 1 date in Nisan actually works with the obvious end date of the 69 ‘weeks’.
http://astropixels.com/ephemeris/phasescat/phases-0499.html (Year 444 BC is -443 on the chart)
Seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens’ or 69 ‘sevens’ = Nehemiah Decree to Palm Sunday
Also from the same Daniel passage in verse 25, “…there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’” which is the first grouping of sevens mentioned, accounting for 69-sevens of the 70 sevens between the events to “…rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler”. Recalling the story of Palm Sunday, Jesus was anointed with oil and proclaimed as the ruler, King of the Jews, right before riding a donkey in a great procession into Jerusalem on top of palm leaves exactly like a newly crowned Hebrew King of old before Israel was taken into captivity by the Babylonians approximately 500 years earlier.
- 69 weeks X ‘sevens’ = 483 Prophetic Years
- 483 X 360-day year = 173,880 days
- 173,880 = 476 calendar years, 21 calendar days (http://www.easysurf.cc/ndate2.htm)
- 173,880/365.2421904 = 476 tropical years, 24.7 tropical days
- March 2, 444 BC 21:29 IST = Astronomical New Moon
- March 4, 444 BC 21:29 IST = Observed Waxing Crescent Moon (after sundown)
- March 4th (sundown) – 5th (sundown), 444 BC = Nehemiah Decree, Nisan 1
- March 29, 33 AD = Palm Sunday
- April 3, 33 AD = Full Moon (Lunar Eclipse), Passion of Christ
- March 5, 444 BC -> March 29, 33 AD = 173,880 astronomical days = 476 years, 24 days
Don’t forget about the 0.7 tropical day, right?
The true span of time for the 69 ‘sevens’ is 476 tropical years, 24 days, 17 hours, 13 minutes and 17.18 seconds. To be more precise, since Nisan 1 started after sundown on March 4, 444 BC with the waxing crescent moon and if we borrow the same time stamp from 2 nights prior when the new moon began on 21:29 IST or 9:29 pm as the actual start date and time of the Nehemiah Decree, add 476 years and 24 days to March 4, 444 BC to land on March 28, 33 AD at 9:29 pm, the Saturday night before Palm Sunday but still technically the same Jewish date as Palm Sunday. (Keep in mind that Persepolis, the palace of Artaxerxes, King of Persia, was located in present day central Iran. The modern time zone in Iran is 1.5 hrs ahead of Israel. For the sake of calculations, all times are given in Israel Standard Time i.e. IST) By adding 17 hours to this time, we arrive at 2:29 pm on March 29, 33 AD, Palm Sunday, in the afternoon in Israel. By adding 13 minutes to this time, we arrive at 2:42 or 2:43 pm depending on if 17.18 seconds rolled over the additional minute or not. It is conceivable that Jesus was anointed the ruler, King of the Jews, in the traditional manner before the procession on the donkey to Jerusalem at this time. Not only would Jesus had already eaten lunch before this began but he would have easily made it to Jerusalem likely before dinner that night. It would not be believable if the timing worked out for Jesus to be anointed ruler at 4 am, right, especially on the wrong day of the week? It would also not make sense if Nehemiah was drinking wine at 9 am in the morning either. Luckily, it didn’t happen in the middle of the night as the donkey would not be able to see where he was going. Also as additional evidence of the daily timing being a perfect fit, Nehemiah was having wine with the King of Persia on a special occasion, the Jewish New Years. Peter in Acts 2 clearly points out that they did not drink wine in the morning being 9 am. Considering a reasonable person could drink wine in the afternoon or evening without looking like a drunk and the new year would not start until after sundown, it is safe to assume Nehemiah’s decree happened in the evening after sundown when wine would easily have been present without being out of place.
- 69 ‘sevens’ = 476 tropical years, 24 days, 17 hours, 13 mins, 17.18 seconds
- March 4, 444 BC 9:29 pm IST (Nisan 1) -> March 29, 33 AD 2:43 pm IST (Palm Sunday)
The 70th ‘seven’ is the literal 7-day Holy Week
In Daniel 9:26-27 – “26 After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be put to death…” 27 He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering.” This part of the passage clearly distinguishes a separate ‘seven’ from the previous 69 sevens counted separately earlier in the passage as if the span was to be treated or reckoned differently in some way. Therefore, treating the 70th ‘seven’ as a literal week brings into focus the passage, after the “seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens,’” which lands directly on Palm Sunday thus ending the 69 sevens. During the 70th seven, “the Anointed One will be put to death…” and “In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to the sacrifice and offering.” This is consistent with the Crucifixion happening between Palm Sunday and Resurrection Sunday, a normal week apart.
- Sunday March 29, 33 AD – Palm Sunday (end of 69th ‘seven’)
- Thursday April 2, 33 AD – Last Supper, Passover Feast begins after sundown
- Friday April 3, 33 AD – Crucifixion & Passover with Lunar Eclipse (blood red from Israel)
- Saturday April 4, 33 AD – Sabbath, day set aside from Week of Creation for this event
- Sunday April 5, 33 AD – Resurrection Sunday (end of 70th ‘seven’)
Some other 70-Week Prophecy interpretations land perfectly on Palm Sunday at the end of the 69th ‘seven’ but then skip over the most important event in history contained within the Passion Week started by Palm Sunday. They jump right over approximately 2000 unanswered years thus far to the week of ‘Tribulation’. There could possibly be a dual interpretation for the 70th ‘seven’ or prophetic week but if 69 weeks of prophetic years lands on the beginning of Passion Week, it stands to reason that the last week of the prophecy being the most important seven of the 70 has something to do with Palm Sunday and the events that immediately followed that week, not the Tribulation thousands of years in the future. The 70-Week prophecy gives a very specific time frame that has to be decoded. A Bible prophecy setting the specific time to the Tribulation does not exist and this prophecy cannot be hijacked for that purpose in my view. Clearly the same passage speaks to other events that follow the Passion of Christ. The timing of the prophecy however does not.
Why April 3, 33 AD to date the Crucifixion?
John 19:31 – Then the Jews, since it was the day of Sabbath preparation (that is, Sabbath eve), and so the bodies wouldn’t stay on the crosses over the Sabbath (it was a high holy day that year), petitioned Pilate that their legs be broken to speed death, and the bodies taken down. So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first man crucified with Jesus, and then the other. When they got to Jesus, they saw that he was already dead, so they didn’t break his legs. One of the soldiers stabbed him in the side with his spear. Blood and water gushed out.
Many scholars, including Sir Isaac Newton, narrowed several possible crucifixion dates down to two, one is April 3, 33 AD, which is the only date of the two during a lunar eclipse (confirmed by lunar eclipse charts) and where Passover was the day before the Sabbath, both described in Scripture (i.e. Acts 2:14) on the Day of Pentecost, May 23, 33 AD.
The Day of Pentecost, Recap of the Signs and Wonders that occurred with the Crucifixion
Pentecost is 50 days after the Passover/Crucifixion, which is also the feast of Shavuot (i.e. Feast of Weeks), to offer first fruits of the wheat harvest because God told Jews to do so in Leviticus 23. Shavuot is also the anniversary of the giving of the Law at Mt. Sinai to Moses, and is considered to be the birthday of ancient Israel. The Day of Pentecost was also the day of the giving or ‘out-pouring’ of the Holy Spirit to the new church, the bride of Christ.
Acts 2:14 – “14 That’s when Peter stood up and, backed by the other eleven, spoke out with bold urgency: ‘Fellow Jews, all of you who are visiting Jerusalem, listen carefully and get this story straight. These people aren’t drunk as some of you suspect. They haven’t had time to get drunk—it’s only nine o’clock in the morning. This is what the prophet Joel announced would happen: “In the Last Days,” God says, “I will pour out my Spirit on every kind of people: Your sons will prophesy, also your daughters; Your young men will see visions, your old men dream dreams. When the time comes, I’ll pour out my Spirit On those who serve me, men and women both, and they’ll prophesy. I’ll set wonders in the sky above and signs on the earth below, Blood and fire and billowing smoke, the sun turning black and the moon blood-red, Before the Day of the Lord arrives, the Day tremendous and marvelous; And whoever calls out for help to me, God, will be saved.”
The Apostles confirmed the marvelous signs that the OT Prophet Joel foretold that would happen during Passover just 50 days prior because many in this crowd had actually witnessed these amazing forces of nature during the Crucifixion as well as the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on that Day of Pentecost. “I’ll set wonders in the sky above and signs on the earth below [during the crucifixion], Blood and fire and billowing smoke [i.e. earth quakes and volcanic eruptions from the quakes nearby], the sun turning black [i.e. a miraculous solar eclipse] and the moon blood-red [i.e. lunar eclipse], Before the Day of the Lord [i.e. Resurrection Sunday] arrives, the Day tremendous and marvelous…”
One would also have to imagine that if the 6-hour crucifixion that spanned from approximately 9 am to 3 pm in the afternoon on Passover and the lunar eclipse recorded during the afternoon portion of the crucifixion along with a simultaneous solar eclipse to give the moon more luminance during the day as the Scriptures suggest, one could also assume with the moon rising in the East that either Jesus was facing East on the cross in order to see it or he was facing West into the Sun so the gathered crowd could see him and the lunar eclipse together. It is impossible for a solar eclipse and a lunar eclipse to happen at the same time. Since the lunar eclipse has been confirmed to have been able to occur on that date and around that time visible from Israel with computer models, the solar eclipse can only be explained by some order of miraculous that did not change the position of the Sun, Earth or Moon from their normal positions in space.
There are scholars that also use this same passage in Acts to talk about similar signs and wonders to happen thousands of years into the future during the Tribulation. Once again, the timing of the ‘signs and wonders’ during the crucifixion are more relevant to events 50 days prior than thousands of years hence. It is likely that the same signs and wonders will be present during the Tribulation as well but it is not foretold by this prophecy in my view.
Peace be with you.
Daniel’s Seventy Weeks prophecy: A detailed look at Daniel 9:24-27 http://www.aboutbibleprophecy.com/weeks.htm
The Curious History of the Gregorian Calendar http://www.infoplease.com/spot/gregorian1.html
Consideration of the Origin of the Yearly Count in the Julian and the Gregorian Calendar http://www.calendersign.com/en/to_adjustment_AD.php
Anno Domini – Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anno_Domini
Isaac Newton, Observations upon the Prophecies of Daniel, and the Apocalypse of St. John (1733) http://www.isaacnewton.ca/daniel_apocalypse/
BibleGateway.com: A Searchable Online Bible in over 100 versions and 50 languages
Sidereal, tropical, and anomalistic years http://www.public.asu.edu/~mjwhite/Sidereal%20and%20tropical%20years.pdf